Fairbanks, Morse, and Company Building, (1907) 902 Harvey Street
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Omaha architects Fisher and Lawrie designed this six-story, dark brown brink warehouse for Fairbanks, Morse and Company in 1907. The 66 x 132-foot building is supported by exterior bearing walls of graduated masonry and a heavy timber frame. Aesthetically, the straight forward, utilitarian appearance of the structure associates it with early twentieth century "realistic" design. The architects only concessions to historicism and ornament are the building's Sullivanesque arched entryway, its pedimented parapet, and the stone cherubs that occur at the imposts of the arch and at the ends of the stone stringcourse that divides the first and second stories. The stone cherubs, which depict various aspects in the production of machinery, present an interesting sculptural element unique not only in the district, but in the city. Stone is also employed for window sills, a simple coping at the parapet and for a tablet inscribed with the company name that crowns the facade. Windows, which are square from the third to the sixth floors, are wood, double hung throughout the building. Very few changes have been made to the building since its construction.
The history of Fairbanks, Morse and Company is tied to the E. & T. Fairbanks Company, early makers and distributors of a platform scale invented by Thaddeus Fairbanks in 1830. E. & T. Fairbanks dominated the scale market in the mid-nineteenth century, trading throughout the world. Charles Morse a nephew of an early Fairbanks salesman, formed Fairbanks, Morse and Company in Cincinnati in 1866 to distribute Fairbanks scales along with other industrial and agricultural equipment. Morse's company, which acquired ownership of the E. & T. Fairbanks Company in 1916, maintained a headquarters in Chicago with warehouses in St. Louis, St. Paul, Kansas City, Omaha and California. The Omaha branch of Fairbanks, Morse and Company - which fire located in the city in 1889 - functioned as both as distribution and service facility. While it still sold scale at the time of this structure was erected, the firm was then also the largest manufacturer of gasoline, kerosene and crude oil engines in the United States.